KEVIN CURRAN catches up with the latter half of the English hip hop duo, dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip about books, albums, beards and who in British politics would win in a fight.
2010 has been a busy year for DLS Vs SP with the release of their second album “The Logic of Chance” in March the duo played over 40 festival dates over the summer and have been constantly touring ever since and just finished their tour last week in Ireland with sell out dates in Cork, Galway and Dublin. From the start Pip admits that Ireland is left to last on the tour for a reason. “Electric Picnic was a highlight of festivals we played and we always look forward to playing here (Ireland). . . It’s not by accident that we are ending our tour in Ireland, we’re getting a great reaction here .There has always been a great reaction to our stuff here. Our Dublin show sold out so we added an extra date.” Not one to stay idle Pip also released a book of spoken word poetry at the same time as the album however he is aware where his priorities lie. “Last few months have probably been more about the band but we did have the book available at our shows. I did a few signings in book shops as well so it’s been all good really. Two or three of the poems in the book are incorporated into our set. There’s a few in there that we play live so it’s all merged together really it’s not a case of one or the other.”
For those unfamiliar with the band you may find it peculiar that a rapper is releasing a book of poetry however the band’s music has been likened to spoken word poetry set to hip hop, conversely it wasn’t all Yeats and Donne for Pip as a child. “I started off listening to punk, to bands like The Clash, Rancid, Crass and Minor Threat. Then I got into Hip Hop and progressed from there.” Although his music today is different he still sees a link “I think the attitude, the style and the subject that I write about comes from a punk background.”
It is this environment that makes Pip uneasy about being called a poet in the traditional sense. “I grew up loving music. I was into music long before I was into spoken word poetry. I always had the two in mind together so in my mind there is no need to separate them.” When I likened his themes to that of T.S. Eliot he again restated how he only fell in to poetry and never had grounding in it. “I have always been far more interested in music. It was through Hip Hop that I got into people like Gill Scott Heron, Sage Francis and Saul Williams who were combining spoken word and Hip Hop. It all just came together in that way for me. I haven’t had a great learning in poetry. That’s why I chose to do the book the way I did to get people like me who grew up away from poetry and trying to get them to read it by putting it in a more appealing way”.
With the identification of a punk underbelly in their band it is easy to see where the bands social commentary style comes from. The content of their songs are often personal introspection or statements about the decline of modern culture. Pip often puts raw emotion out there but he declares that it is a natural progression. “That’s the only way I know how to write really, talking about things that interest me is the only way I can write. I generally take something that is a genuine experience that happened to me and make a story out of it, I have to take those emotions, truth and feelings and make a new story out of them.” Despite the somewhat odd style of dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip the duo have enjoyed chart success in England with both of their albums and with singles such as “Thou Shalt Always Kill”. Scroobius Pip enjoys this paradoxical situation he finds himself in where songs he writes giving out about popular culture becoming popular. “For me the more people listening the better. If we are making music the way we want to make it and it goes to number 1 then that’s great. That means people are getting it and taking it in so that would be great! We wouldn’t change the way we write or the things we talk about to chase commercial success. If it happens organically then it happens.”
Not to end juxtapositions, this well spoken bard is an avid fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and often appears on Setanta Sport talking about it. The question was posed as to which famous figures he would like to see duke it out in the octagon however there were too many options for him so the remit was shortened it to British Political leaders “Well if Brown was still there it would be no contest, you’d have to have money on him…not very agile and sneaky but a lot of girth. I think Nick Clegg would be the obvious choice out of the current lot, he seems to be the most sprightly and conditioned. Millaband actually looks like he could bring some BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) to the table so he could have the advantage there. Cameron would probably take a wrench out from under the stage or get his butler to knock his opponent down with his Bentley and get disqualified.”
With unimportant matters out of the way it was time to talk serious issues: the beard! Questioned as to whether he could remember his face Pip was unsure “It is somewhere but I don’t think people would recognise me if I walked down the street. It is under there somewhere but at some point I will shave it off and be like ‘Wow there I am!’ but until then I will hide behind it.”
As we parted Pip was willing to share the specific techniques involved in maintaining a quality beard “I don’t stumble upon a beard like this by accident! I use a rub in conditioner every day…make it nice and soft and thicken it up a bit…there is a level effort and technique that goes it into to this thing. It doesn’t prop up like this by itself! It takes a bit of coaxing.”